After yesterday’s decision, we start the day shell-shocked. Tearful, anxious, worried. I get up late, but from 9.30am the phone rings constantly so getting myself ready to face the day is continually interrupted. A cousin who’s been through all this with my uncle and was brilliantly supportive, my Dad’s cousin who just wanted to say we were doing the right thing and not to feel bad, my brother to say he was feeling unwell but would see us at lunchtime, the OT from the ward to ask about my mum’s most recent level of mobility, the Dr from the ward to ask what exactly happened on Saturday/Sunday. I give up trying to dry my hair and leave it to frizz naturally. I put make-up on though. Armour.
I meet my sister at my Dad’s before we go to the hospital. Dad doesn’t want to visit and we don’t push it. He says he has slept better than he has for two years. He says he is going to walk round the street delivering Christmas cards. Leaving the house is something he hasn’t done for many months. He looks ‘lighter’. We are pleased for him. We feel bad.
At the hospital Mum has been moved to a ward for the elderly. All the staff are trained to care for people with dementia. It feels so different. I talk to the OT I spoke to on the phone. She was lovely. My sister and I speak to the Dr. He has the same surname as us and we smile about it. We go to Mum’s bedside. She is sitting in a chair chattering nonsense to my niece, who is ok but visibly upset at seeing her Nan. We talk to Mum about cake, visitors, drinks and food. The Chief Nurse puts her head round the door and my sister and I go to the visitors room with her. She reminds us what we said yesterday and asks us to remember how we felt and why we made the decision. She says there will be times when we will think that perhaps we could manage after all, but that we should remember how we felt yesterday and that the decision was the right one. We cry. The Lead Nurse for the ward joins us. She reassures us about care, about processes, that Mum will be on her ward for a while before any assessment can be done and we should know that she will be safe and cared for. We cry some more.
We compose ourselves and go back to Mum’s room. She is in bed, the foot of the bed is raised and she looks dazed and sleepy. Her blood pressure has dropped. The Dr with our name is there, he prescribes fluids (she never would drink anything) and we try to get her to drink. My niece is upset but OK. Mum is drowsy, slurred speech, to weak to suck at the straw. Her blood pressure drops further. Her nurse puts in a cannula and sets up an IV. She pushes the fluid in fast. Mum is unresponsive but asleep rather than anything else. Quiet. Peaceful. We stand at the end of the bed and look at her. We are thinking the same thing. We say it. That we would rather she was like this, asleep, fading but peaceful and not angry and agitated and confused. I think we don’t want her to go back to that. We feel bad. We go for a cup of tea.